14) The Last Bit: Does Your Approach Make You Critical of Others?

We need to ask your opinion. If you have a unique way of sharing Christ, should it prompt you to become critical of others’ approaches? This came up in Jesus’ day. The disciples came to Jesus in Mark 9:38 explaining that they had seen someone driving out demons in Jesus’ name but, they said, “he was not one of us.” So they told him to stop. Jesus’ response? “Do not stop him.” Jesus then added, “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” Now I can’t claim to have final knowledge on this passage. But it seems here that the general principle that Jesus is teaching is simple: “If you’re in a foxhole, it’s fairly easy to determine who is your ally. He or she will be the person shooting at the same enemy as you.”

Now this doesn’t mean you have to HELP the person who has a differing approach. You might not even think it’s the best stewardship or even the most effective. But based on Bible passages, it doesn’t make sense to speak negatively to others about that other person if he or she is doing the best job possible at advancing the Cause.

If you don’t trust Jesus on this, at least listen to Paul in Philippians 1:15-18 —

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

The principle here, as we see it, is that our general posture should be one of positive support for ANY and ALL efforts to advance the cause of the Great Commission — even if those efforts are different from ours.

But what about you? What if YOUR approach is different than someone else’s approach? Do you try to make your approach look better by speaking or writing negatively about the other person’s strategy? Quoting James 3:10 in the blessed KJV, “My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” [OK, we’re joking about bringing out the 1611 Bible version but we’re not joking about the main point.] Just because our view is different from another person’s view of strategy or approach, it doesn’t mean we should be putting them down — or even putting down their approach. By all means, each person has a right to share Christ in the way he or she feels called. He or she does NOT have the right to criticize the other approach, at least biblically speaking.

What’s your take on this line of thought? Please click “Comment” following the app or web version of this item. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

4 Responses to 14) The Last Bit: Does Your Approach Make You Critical of Others?
  1. Don Hart Reply

    I am a retired missions pastor. Our church traveled to serve in nations around the world — from huge modern cities to tribal peoples far back in the jungle. Now how are you going to use the same passages to reach people in huge cities to tribal peoples back in that jungle?!!! If God has your church reaching to a place He has sent you, you use that which will call these peoples to God’s power and love. I’m not “yelling” to anyone, but I urge us all to seek GOD’S will, not our own! (And remember, I suspect that the church in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day didn’t “do their ‘church’ the same way we do today!” )

    • Editor Reply

      Hi Don. I might not have communicated clearly. My point actually was — perhaps we might never have to criticze others’ approaches.

  2. Warrick Farah Reply

    Hi Doug, good questions. This is why an approach called “Adaptive Missiology” has been developed. In essence, adaptive missiology “Adaptive Missiology” addresses two dilemmas:

    1. How do we account for the diversity of missiological approaches in the NT?
    2. Why do drastically different missiological approaches bear fruit today, sometimes even in the same context?

    See the new article in IJFM called “Adaptive Missiological Engagement with Islamic Contexts,” which is also a chapter in the new Margins of Islam book. Thanks for sharing it in this issue!

    -Warrick

  3. Jef Reply

    I think the spirit by which we do the critiquing (not criticising!) is the bottom line here. Most of the experienced disciple making movement leaders that I have listened to have some very strong opinions about various ways of doing things – but their heart is to encourage and build up the church, constantly pursuing improvement.

    The danger of not critiquing is we kind of enter this “Well, everything kind of works — so let’s not rock the boat or upset people.” methodological relativism when the reality is that some things just work better than others.

    A core attribute of multiplying movements (as well as good companies and pretty much any human enterprise) is brutal honesty and re-evaluation of what you’re doing.
    We will risk sounding critical, at times may even offend some people, but if done in relationship and with a heart for the King and His Kingdom, I believe we can stay on track.

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